Despite my amazing wife being a certified yoga instructor, I have never taken a class. To her immense credit, she never pushed me to take one, until a month ago.
She had been hired to teach some classes for a group staying at the hotel I was working at and wanted to use me to brush up on her skills. She has a reputation for being great with beginners so having the ultimate beginner as a student would be good for both of us.
I pretended to get lost on my way to our guest room and showed up late to my first class. I was immediately sent back to our bedroom to change. Strike one.
After finding some acceptable yoga outfit I returned. There was weird music on and a strange what I thought may be weed smell coming from behind my perfectly dressed yoga teacher, but I persisted. After complaining about the color of my mat (strike two) we got started.
My brain has the notorious habit of never slowing down. Even when my body is stopped stone cold my thoughts never cease. Having a quiet mind is important for any yoga practice or meditation so this was not an easy hour for me. Factor in that my sternum is still healing and the severed nerves in my chest are slowly returning to life the getting in and out of many of these yoga poses was painful, which I am told yoga is not meant to be.
I kept at it. And my teacher was with me every step of the way. Her direction was focused yet gentle and there were a few times where I thought I was close to “getting it.” At one point she asked me to lengthen my head. In spite of my impulse to question the logic of that request I tried to head butt the ceiling, and she seemed pleased with my effort.
About half way through my first yoga class, after some sweat broke, some confusing sounding poses and a handful of moments of clarity, something strange happened.
I was standing, in the middle of a pose that could have been a tree, or a warrior, or a war hero named after a tree, when my wife walked behind me and leaned toward my head and offered some teacher to student encouragement.
The minute her whisper ended every nerve in my body rushed toward the surface. The feeling was surreal and my eyes began to water. I shut my eyes and a few tears were pushed from my lids and crawled down my cheeks.
I was caught off guard and tried to pull myself together and listen to my teacher’s next instructions. I got through the class and really enjoyed it and felt I learned something from it. But I could not shake that feeling and spent awhile trying to figure out where it came from and why it happened.
To me it was a beautiful moment, and a moment that may have never happened if things took a left turn instead of a right one back in January. During those days filled with uncertainty and insanity, my wife was always there. She didn’t just hold my hand and wipe my forehead. She was able to read my mind, articulate my feelings to my doctors when I couldn’t find the words myself. There is no way I could have survived that disaster without her. In fact, and I told her this during my time in CTICU, that if it wasn’t for her, I would died just the way my father had. Young, scared, and alone on the floor of my apartment.
Those feelings can push a person to do odd things. Like take a yoga class and break into tears during said class. But that is what I did. And it makes more sense than ever. The emotions were derived not just from my love toward my wife, but for a sense that these moments may have never happened. And if that moment never happened, how many others amazing moments would I have missed if I went away that week in January.
Take a minute to look around during the good moments. Let them wander around your head and your arms and take a snapshot with your brain before moving on to the next one. Think about why you are doing what you are doing, and please, for the love of life and your yoga teacher, don’t forget to breathe.